People often ask me how I found the courage to quit a six-figure job, move to a tiny fishing village in Nova Scotia Canada, and to start my own educational software business. Especially when I had two kids under the age of five and I was the sole wage earner in the family. Then there was the fact that I didn’t know how to code software. 

At the time I didn’t have a good answer to that question. I did know that I’d done something important. Scared as I was, and I was plenty scared, there was this feeling at the base of my spine unlike anything I’d ever experienced before. It felt crazy good. So good that I found myself speaking out loud to myself. “We did it. We actually did it.” 

Five years earlier I wouldn’t have believed it was possible. Our dream of raising our family in the little village my wife’s family had called home for 250 years had run smack up against a seasonal economy that offered little or no work for someone like me. I was not cut out for fishing, forestry, or construction work, and even less suited for a career in teaching, banking, or healthcare. And that pretty much summed up the extent of the local job market. So we crammed everything we could into an eight-foot tall box on the truck bed of our F-150 half ton, and like so many others Maritimers headed west in search of work. 

The career and financial success that followed had caught me by surprise. My plan had been to find a job as a business analyst. The same cubicle style job I had when I had first graduated from college. Stuck in the throws of an economic downturn, I couldn’t find work. Almost out of desperation I went on an interview for a corporate sales job. Somehow I got the job and for the next five years I gave everything I had to the company that had hired me. The money and the perks were spectacular. The price I had to pay to get them? Not so much. 

I was homesick in a way that is impossible to describe. I was learning the hard way that if you’re heart’s not in it, then no amount of money or fancy job titles will ever make you happy. My heart was in Nova Scotia. My mind kept telling me that I just had to suck it up. That I could have an exciting career or live the life I wanted, but not both. And for the better part of five years I bought into that lie. Until I couldn’t take it anymore.

Looking back it’s easy for me to see where I found the courage to quit that job, move back to Nova Scotia, and start a business most everyone predicted was certain to fail. It’s actually very simple. For the first time in my life my WHY was bigger than my fear of failure. 

I wanted to prove that it was possible to live the life I wanted, and to have an exciting career. 

The remarkable thing is that without conscious thought I’d taken on a purpose that was about more than me. Sure I wanted to feed my family and keep a roof over my head, but it was about a lot more than that. I was determined to prove that a business like mine could make a go of it in our little fishing village. I was determined to prove that it was possible to prioritize time with family and still have a high paying, purposeful, career. And I was determined to prove that life is not about settling.

Today’s blog was inspired by my conversation with Corey Poirier, the Best Selling Author of The Book of Why (and How). I’ve read the book and I believe that it should be mandatory reading for anyone that is seeking to live a life filled with purpose and meaning. Corey has a launch on right now and you can learn all about that at www.thebookofwhy.com 

If you haven’t heard of my podcast yet, it’s a collection of real and raw stories from an eclectic mix of Thought Leaders, Entrepreneurs, WSJ and NYT Best Selling Authors, and a wide range of women and men who have overcome great adversity by finding the gift in their challenges. 

Check out the Screw the Naysayers Podcast anywhere you listen to podcasts or catch the Blog summaries here.  



Tim Alison

Tim Alison

Business Mentor, Harvard Speaker, Magnify You Facilitator, Author x 3, Podcast Host at Screw the Naysayers

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